Irvine Welsh, as Mikey Forrester, in “T2: Trainspotting,” based on his novels, and for which he serves as executive producer. | Jaap Buitendijk/CTMG, Inc.

Irvine Welsh is famous for gritty Scottish tales, but lives here

SHARE Irvine Welsh is famous for gritty Scottish tales, but lives here
SHARE Irvine Welsh is famous for gritty Scottish tales, but lives here

Scottish writer Irvine Welsh is best known for his gritty novel “Trainspotting” — turned into the acclaimed 1996 film directed by Danny Boyle and starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyleas hard-living mates in the author’s homeland.But for more than a decade, the Edinburgh native has lived in Chicago.

During a recent chat, Welsh slyly revealed the reason he came to live in Chicago — and had remained here — “were one and the same. It was my wife. I met her in a bar in Chicago. She kind of stared at me, and then dragged me off to a love nest in Ukrainian Village. I’ve been held hostage here for quite a while,” he quipped.

After all this time, it would seem logical to think the city might have had some kind of impact on his writing. Yet the soft-spoken Scot claims that not to be the case.

“Oh, I’d say one is influenced as a writer by everywhere you go and everywhere you live,” said Welsh. “Funny, though, Chicago has not come out in my writing. I have never felt moved to write a Chicago story because of what I typically do write: blue-collar, street, working-class fiction.

“There’s such a heritage in Chicago for that kind of writing — and done so beautifully by the likes of Nelson Algren, Sherwood Anderson and Studs Terkel — I’ve felt you guys have all that well covered. You don’t need me. … I go to Miami. I have a place there. I find it more easy to write about that. In my view Miami is a transitional city. But Chicago is different. Those other writers understood it instinctively better than I ever could.”

That said, alongtime collaborator disagrees. Filmmaker Danny Boyle, director of “Trainspotting” and its new sequel “T2 Trainspotting” (in theaters Friday), told me, “Irvine left Edinburgh a long time ago, but that source material for him is still Edinburgh. However — and I see this with many writers — when they move to a different environment, the way Irvine has with Chicago, it does give them a different prism to see things through. So, while Irvine may not have written anything yet about Chicago, I think Chicago has provided him with a slightly different prism to refract what he wants to talk about.

“That’s merely a detail thing, but I think it’s an important detail for him as a writer.”

As for “T2,” Welsh and Boyle agree that it was fear that took them so long to develop and finally film the sequel to the 1996 movie. “We were afraid we’d screw it up,” said Welsh. “We had some chances to do it over the past 15 years or so, but we were a bit scared we’d trash the original.”

In the first film, McGregor’s Renton character was heavily involved in the drug scene in Edinburgh. He not only tries to clean up his act and escape the world of addiction, but he also makes off with a pile of cash, stolen from his lifelong friends.

In “T2,” Renton returns to Edinburgh after many years and has to deal with those former pals — and the revenge they seek for his earlier deception.

When it comes to making this sequel, Boyle believed that it was really important to wait until the key actors — McGregor, Bremner, Miller and Carlyle — “had become middle-aged men. I think the story becomes richer and more interesting when you see how those four, in particular, have matured, changed or not changed, as the case may be.”

Welsh, who plays a small role in the sequel, also pointed out that if they had made a sequel to “Trainspotting” soon after the original film was released, “we likely would have again gone straight into a film about young guys doing more wacky things for an adventure — again running at full speed — and it wouldn’t have had the extra level of depth I think we have in this new film.

“There’s an extra emotional depth because the guys being middle-aged means they are more aware of their mortality and the stakes are higher.”

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